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Comments

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Utilities Should Worry; Rooftop Solar Could Soon Cut Their Profit

dfm3 Re:The industry will NEVER allow you free energy.. (517 comments)

I too have off-the-grid dreams as a house-owner, but the power companies always find a way, same thing with the electrical car that could run on water. Lobbyist will manipulate (read: FORCE) politicians into their direction, so you'll be depending on them one way or the other.

Huh? I guess there are places where you are required by law to hook up your house to the power grid, but nobody can force you to USE electricity. What's to stop you from just keeping the main breaker switched off?

I've actually known more than one person who didn't have utility power to their house, and they made it just fine. One of them engineered a small hydroelectric turbine system using a small creek that flowed across their land (they had several hundred acres in the North Carolina mountains) which they used to power a small refrigerator and occasionally a computer. The other used a collection of lead-acid car batteries which they charged up using a solar panel, then could hook up to an inverter as they needed.

about three weeks ago
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Comcast Drops Spurious Fees When Customer Reveals Recording

dfm3 "Quality assurance"? (368 comments)

I've wondered about this. Could a statement that a call may be recorded for "quality assurance" or the like be interpreted to mean that I, as the customer, also have permission to record the call... you know, to assure that I'm getting the quality of service that I expect?

about 2 months ago
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Windows XP Falls Below 25% Market Share, Windows 8 Drops Slightly

dfm3 Skeuomorphism vs. flat (336 comments)

Maybe it's also because I hate the new skeuomorphic design aesthetic. What's wrong with gloss, gradients, transparency, and attractive animations, or even a bevel or link here and there so we can actually tell something is clickable rather than playing mystery-meat navigation? I swear, everything is going flat-shaded, blocky, ugly, and indistinguishable, all because that's now the new "hip" look.

Skeumorphism - the use of design elements that mimic real life objects with similar functions, is actually the opposite phenomenon from the flat, light-on-pastel design trend. Though I fully agree with you - both of these UI philosophies have been severely overused.

A bit of googling will turn up plenty of articles analyzing the history of the skeuomorphism-versus-flat debate particularly at Apple, which I would argue has been one of the biggest influences in UI design over the last few years. Basically, the loss of skeuomorphism advocates such as Steve Jobs and Scott Forstall led to the pendulum swinging completely in the other direction, and many gimmicky and dated interface elements such as notes apps that look like real paper and a game center that looks like a cheap felt billiard table have been stripped away. But - what to replace it with? Well, everybody wants to stay on top of the latest design trend, and Microsoft and others seem to be migrating to flat designs, so flat it is.

Although you could argue over who copied who, essentially what you have is Microsoft and Apple in a race to see who can flatten their interfaces and strip out any traces of skeuomorphism the fastest. Sure, it looks trendy, but it's reached the point where we are sacrificing usability and accessibility in order to have the most "modern" design. Here's where I have a problem with the whole thing: computer interface elements have been pretty consistent over the last 20+ years or so. Everything behaved as expected and usually acted pretty consistent between operating systems. This is great for users, since they can focus on the task rather than the tools needed to accomplish them, and using the interface becomes second nature. To those who *design* computers rather than *use* them, this is a problem - you want the bling to be noticed. The old way of doing this was to show off your new hardware by making the UI flashy, bright, colorful, inviting - basically by ramping up the skeuomorphic elements to 11.

The problem is, the novelty of this wears off fast, and these interfaces quickly become dated. Now, flat is in, and anything that even remotely resembles skeuomorphism is stripped out. I have a number of problems with the current trend:

1) interface elements are hidden or played down, making them hard to find. Often it's hard to tell if I'm just not looking hard enough for that feature, or if it has been removed altogether.
2) It does away with conventions that have been standard for decades. This means that every time designers go wild designing a new interface, users have to spend time and effort learning a new way to accomplish a task.
3) It's less accessible. Razor thin text is hard for some people to see. Pastel on white and white on pastel text may look "hip" but can incredibly difficult to read. Interface elements that are marginalized can be hard to hunt down if the user doesn't know where to look.
4) It's inconsistent. Some programs hide buttons and scroll bars, some do not. Some use vastly different elements for simple actions such as "close window" so that the user is left guessing at the function of a UI element.

My prediction is that in a few years, "flat" will look as equally dated as skeuomorphism does now.

about 3 months ago
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Comcast Confessions

dfm3 They already do! (234 comments)

They already do this. After getting calls at least once a week pushing offers to upgrade our service to a bundle with a land line, and after asking them *each time* to stop calling us... we cancelled our service.

about 3 months ago
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Researchers Find "Achilles Heel" of Drug Resistant Bacteria

dfm3 Re:e. coli and salmonella? (106 comments)

As a microbiologist, I agree that the Telegraph article is rife with errors. The original article is paywalled, but from the abstract it sounds as if the researchers described a mechanism by which lipopolysaccharide, a component of the gram-negative cell wall which provides some degree of antibiotic resistance, is exported from the cell. I understand Dong, et al to be suggesting that a compound which prevents proper transport of LPS could be used synergistically with another drug which would otherwise be blocked from entry into the cell by LPS.

Further, the use of the term "immunity" to describe antibiotic resistance is a pet peeve of mine, as these terms do not mean the same thing!

about 4 months ago
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Could Google's Test of Hiding Complete URLs In Chrome Become a Standard?

dfm3 Re:And the question of the day is... (327 comments)

I can't decide if this should be rated funny, flamebait, or insightful. You have a point though... in an age of App Stores where users are faced with the noise of thousands of copycat apps, it seems that the key to success is how well you catch the attention of potential users, whether through pretty UI screenshots or a flashy looking icon. One of my (formerly) favorite weather apps was recently swept up into the modern "pencil thin white text on a light pastel background with flat UI" design craze, and removed about half the app's features while moving the rest to a single, long scrolling column. Half of the users decried the change for removing valuable functionality and destroying ease of navigation, while the other half offered praise along the lines of: "look at that pretty animated background!" and "ooooooh, shiney!"

about 6 months ago
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Texas Family Awarded $2.9 Million In Fracking Lawsuit

dfm3 How can I relate this to a car analogy... (146 comments)

We are not anti-fracking or anti-drilling. My goodness, we live in Texas.

Yeah, we love fracking! Now give us the 2.9 million dollars...

I love cars. However, if you drove a car into my house and caused serious injury to my family, I would expect monetary compensation from you to cover the damages and medical bills.

about 6 months ago
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General Mills Retracts "No Right to Sue" EULA Clause

dfm3 Re:Joke about lawyers (88 comments)

Not all lawyers are evil or bad...

True, but the problem is that 99% of them give the rest a bad name.

about 6 months ago
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Future Airline Safety Instructions Will Be Given By Game Apps

dfm3 Re:If you know it so well, that's the point (64 comments)

Here's one better: give everybody a safety orientation quiz before boarding, and those with the best scores get their choice of an aisle or window seat, choice of exit row or no exit row, and guaranteed space in an overhead bin. Oh, and the ability to select a non-sweaty seatmate. Put everybody else in the back and separate them by a soundproof door along with anybody flying with an infant-in-arms. Do that, and I won't even need the drink...

about 6 months ago
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Future Airline Safety Instructions Will Be Given By Game Apps

dfm3 If you know it so well, that's the point (64 comments)

If you're so familiar with the safety briefing that you could give it yourself, then the briefings are working *exactly* as they are intended to!
Emergency preparedness is intended to drill these practices into you so that when the time comes, you don't have to think about what to do, you know what to do. Believe me, in a panic situation most ill prepared people don't calmly assess their surroundings and take the time to look for the instructions, but their first reaction is to get themselves out of harm's way as soon as possible. How do I find that emergency exit now that the cabin is filled with smoke? I looked for it when I boarded and I know that it is two rows behind me. Someone who has never been told to look for this exit may not even realize that it is there, nor will they think to look for the patterns in the lights on the floor that indicate you are at an exit row.

I am a very frequent flier, and could give the safety briefing myself, but I still make an effort to put down what I'm doing and pay attention. Why? Because I want to set an example for those who *should* be listening, since I don't want something that they do in a panic later to cause me harm.

about 6 months ago
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Do Free-To-Play Games Get a Fair Shake?

dfm3 Arcade games are still skill based (181 comments)

In my mind, the difference is that there is some level of skill involved in arcade gameplay which is missing in current f2p games. Having grown up in the era when arcades were still the place to spend a Saturday afternoon, I can remember the excitement of nailing that perfect play which seemed to go on and on as the difficulty became increasingly harder... or, the frustration of realizing that you just wasted your money as you crash and burn right off the bat.

Really good arcade players could go what seemed like forever on a single coin, sometimes drawing a sizable audience, while the not-so-good players had a financial (and social!) incentive to improve their gameplay. This is missing from f2p games, which aren't designed to test the player's skill, but their patience. "Trolls are destroying your crops! To double your yield, build a watchtower that will only cost 99 cents!" would be akin to an arcade game prompting you, "Want to complete this level with half of the enemies? Insert a second token now!"

about 6 months ago
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Meet the Voice Behind Siri

dfm3 Yes (114 comments)

The sentences are computer generated, but where did you think the actual syllables came from?

Hour after hour, she read nonsensical phrases and sentences so that the "ubergeeks" -- as she affectionately calls them; they leave her awestruck -- could work their magic by pulling out vowels, consonants, syllables and diphthongs, and playing with her pitch and speed.

1 year,15 days
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Are Shuttered Gov't Sites Actually Saving Money?

dfm3 Re:"Financial Sense" (668 comments)

if there are many of them, then you should be able to give a few examples.

I live near one of the entrances to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We have several facilities in the park (stables, nature centers, bookstores) which are run by private groups and nonprofits with permission from the NPS. When the shutdown took effect, all of them were required to close up shop and leave the park. What's even better, we have areas which are typically seldom if ever patrolled (such as backcountry and wilderness areas) which are being monitored with as many federal law enforcement personnel as possible in order to keep out visitors. At one particular park entrance, which normally patrolled by a single park ranger, TWO rangers with vehicles were stationed just to turn people away at the boundary.

Source: I know many people who work (er... worked) in the park, I have worked within the park myself, and I do volunteer work there. Interestingly, during the shutdown volunteers are *specifically* prohibited from performing any work that a paid employee would normally do.

1 year,16 days
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MMO Fan Site Removes Character Stats Over Trademark Claim

dfm3 Not to mention the poor writing style (139 comments)

There are several pointers to this guy operating out of the basement of his mom's house and being a pure troll with no merit whatsoever to his claims:

Also, the numerous spelling, grammatical, and punctuation errors peppered throughout the emails are pretty hard to miss.

about a year ago
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Police, Copyright Industry Raid Movie Subtitle Fansite

dfm3 That's exactly the way it should work (344 comments)

If I've built up excellent karma through a series of insightful, informative, on-topic posts, I shouldn't have all of that negated by a single post that happens not to please the mods that day. It is designed that way to prevent abuses of the system... for example, so that someone's karma doesn't get obliterated by a few abusive mods who happen to disagree with my opinion on one single post. Yeah, I know that meta-moderation is supposed to reduce this possibility, but really, I know better than that...

Now, if I choose to continuously spout off with a series of flamebait or off topic posts, I deserve the karma hit that will inevitably result.

about a year ago
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Lake Vostok Found Teeming With Life

dfm3 It's not contamination (62 comments)

If you read TFA, you'll see that 1) they did sequence DNA, 2) they found many, many species which are not the usual ones associated with contamination due to methodology, and 3) they found organisms that can theoretically survive in the extreme and varied environments believed to be present in the lake (thermophiles near suspected geothermal areas, halophiles in brackish/salty water, etc). As a microbiologist, I find it fascinating that the authors not only provide a list of species, but go so far as to paint a complete picture of how each could possibly exist in a completely functioning ecosystem. For example, they found organisms responsible for carbon and nitrogen fixation, and hypothesize that these same species will also be found throughout the lake water in their various niches.

about a year ago
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Warner Bros. Sued By Meme Creators Over Copyright Infringement

dfm3 Re:A Taste of Your Own Medicine (210 comments)

No, that's, "horizontal breakfast bar"

about a year and a half ago
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Helium Depleted, Herschel Space Telescope Mission Ends

dfm3 Condensers in vacuum would just create heat (204 comments)

There are two problems with your approach: one, the near vacuum of space does not allow for effective cooling via convection. Two, compressors only displace heat, and in doing so they actually generate more heat overall. A good example of this is the coils on the back of your refrigerator, which get quite warm during operation. Your kitchen warms up slightly while the interior of the fridge cools. In space, this heat does not dissipate readily and would build up until the system overheats.

about a year and a half ago
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Let Them Eat Teslas

dfm3 Re:Collateralized vs Non-Collateralized Loans (461 comments)

This is why a college education should not be intended for everyone. Let's face it: not everybody is cut out for higher education and a society of nothing but service employees, managers, and middlemen with bachelor's degrees or MBA's is not sustainable. Increasingly, people are being forced to spend years in school and take on tens of thousands of dollars in debt learning things that they don't need to know just because employers like to use "degree required" as a way to filter out applicants to entry-level service jobs that pay minimum wage and which don't actually require any of the skills picked up in school.

about a year and a half ago
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US Senate Passes National Internet Sales Tax Mandate

dfm3 Re:First! (State) (297 comments)

But there's simply no comparison between a poorly stocked drawer at Radio Shack...

You mean to tell me that there's a Radio Shack somewhere that still has individual parts in drawers?

about a year and a half ago

Submissions

dfm3 hasn't submitted any stories.

Journals

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15 mod points?

dfm3 dfm3 writes  |  more than 5 years ago I actually started lurking on Slashdot long before I signed up for an account and even longer before I started posting. Back in '99 or so, friends started sending me links to individual articles on the site, but it wasn't until 2001 or so that I actually got hooked and started browsing the front page on my own. Then I signed up for an account so that I could tweak my user preferences. I had no interest in actually contributing to a discussion.

Then, one day, something compelled me to come out of hiding. I'm not sure what. Anyway, I made my first post. It wasn't terribly insightful, or even well written. But it got modded up. That was a bit inspiring... well, inspiring may be a bit of a stretch. However, it did encourage me to post a few comments here and there for the next several months, most of which didn't really go anywhere.

I'm sure everybody remembers the first time they opened a discussion page and spotted something out of the ordinary. The comments looked the same, but there was something extra that I had never noticed before: pulldown menus at the bottom of every post. For the first time ever, I had been handed the awesome power and responsibility of moderation. Well, I blew through all 5 points right there on that single discussion page (for some reason I was under the impression that you only got to mod a single thread), but the following month when the opportunity came around again I was a little more reserved with my points and took two days to distribute them amongst several discussions.

For the next year or so, I returned to the front page once a day or so to catch up on the latest news. I occasionally posted, and occasionally had a few mod points to throw around. I've never been a huge contributor to discussions on this site, but every so often I'll put in a few words when the mood strikes.

Well, one day the pulldown menus appeared again. I did my duty of expanding the thread to show all the -1 comments, skimmed around for anything noteworthy, the spotted something that I felt was particularly informative. After making the appropriate selection, I noticed something odd. I didn't have 4 points left, I had 14.

Was it a glitch? A typo? Could I actually use all 15 points, or would the system stop me after 5? Had I been promoted into some sort of super moderator category? Did somebody decide that there weren't enough points to go around? I checked out the documentation, but found no mention of the possibility of getting more than 5 points at a time. Well, fearing that I would never get another chance at it, I used all 15. And it worked. About a month later I got 15 more. Now I seem to get them on a regular basis- about every two weeks or so. But I still see no mention of it anywhere on the website.

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